FAQ for Referrers
A neuropsychological assessment is particularly useful for people who have known or suspected neurological (brain) impairment (such as a head injury, stroke, dementia, excessive alcohol use and psychiatric condition). The findings can play an important role in establishing a diagnosis, in helping to differentiate between conditions (eg. dementia and depression), and in rehabilitation and care planning. Neuropsychological assessments can also be useful to establish a baseline of an individual’s cognition; to characterise their strengths and weaknesses; and to monitor change over time.
Neuropsychological assessments can assist in:
- The diagnoses of various neurological and neurodegenerative conditions that are currently difficult (or not possible) using neuroimaging procedures
- Determining the presence and severity of a brain injury (eg due to brain trauma) and the consequences of that injury on the individual’s life
- Determining the severity and impact of neurological disorders (eg epilepsy, brain tumours) and other medical illnesses that can impact cognition (eg autoimmune disorders)
- Identifying cognitive strengths and weaknesses (e.g. for vocational or rehabilitation purposes)
- Monitoring cognitive changes over time (e.g. following an accident or following a change in medication)
- Providing strategies to manage cognitive and behavioural difficulties that are the consequence of a neurological event, and to help improve quality of life
- Determining the presence and severity of an acquired brain injury, and the impact of such on current and future social, educational and occupational function in the contact of an insurance or compensation case
- Determining decision-making capacity, testamentary capacity, need for guardianship
A neuropsychological assessment can be a very useful component in:
- Identifying cognitive impairment
- Assisting in the diagnosis of a number of neurological (brain) conditions, particularly in the early stages
- Differentiate between different neurological conditions.
A neuropsychological assessment provides a detailed profile of a client’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses through standardised testing to help with diagnosis and treatment planning for people experiencing difficulties with memory, attention, language or other aspects of cognition or behaviour.
They are recognised as a useful tool for the diagnosis of cognitive impairment, particularly where changes are subtle and not evident on shorter cognitive screening assessments or neuroimaging.
Neuropsychological assessments are more comprehensive than general cognitive assessments; and are better able to describe a client’s profile in the context of their brain function (or dysfunction) and the holistic biopsychosocial information about the client. Neuropsychological assessments are known to be a sensitive tool in the early detection of different types of dementia (such as Alzheimer’s disease). They also play an important role in differentiating between cognitive impairments due to organic conditions (such as stroke or dementia) and those due to a mental health condition (such as depression).
There are a number of people that can benefit from a neuropsychological assessment. First, those with a known or suspected neurological (brain) impairment, such as: - Neurodegenerative conditions (such as a type of dementia - Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease) - Acquired/Traumatic Brain Injury (such as following motor vehicle accidents, falls, assault, brain infections) - Neurological conditions (such as stroke, tumours and epilepsy) - Inflammatory diseases implicating the central nervous system (such as meningitis, encephalitis and multiple sclerosis) - Psychiatric illnesses (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression) - Developmental disorders (such as ADHD, dyslexia and other learning disorders) - Intellectual disabilities (such as Down syndrome) - Brain injury following hypoxia - Brain injury due to long-term alcohol abuse - Post-concussion syndrome (or mild traumatic brain injury) Second, it is becoming increasingly common for people to seek a baseline of their current cognitive abilities. This can be for a number of reasons: - To understand their current brain health, and to find ways to maximise their abilities long term. For example, in a proactive step to reduce the risks of developing dementia - To have for a comparison in managing sports-related concussion risks. By having your own unique cognitive profile, future assessments looking at the impact of a concussion (or multiple concussions) can allow a far greater accuracy for comparison purposes, enabling the sports-person to better manage their return to play.
A neuropsychological assessment remains an important and useful component of the neurological management of patients that do not speak English fluently. We use interpreters for those clients whose English is not fluent, and consider cultural and linguistic factors in our interpretation of test results. Arranging an interpreter is required before the scheduled appointment. Family members or friends of the client are not able to act as the interpreter.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
South West Neuropsychology
0415 955 453